Temperature zoning is... to keep different rooms or parts of the house at different temperatures, instead of heating or cooling the entire house.
You may have, for instance, a zone 1, involving the living room, a zone 2 for bedrooms, and a zone 3 for scarcely used rooms…
The ultimate goal is to get energy savings, and the idea behind it is rather self-explanatory: why should we heat or cool the rooms that are not being used? Why should we be wasting energy by heating or cooling rooms that are not occupied?
Manufacturers of heating and cooling equipment are actively promoting central HAVC equipment with zoning features.
Zoning, in this sense, involves different rooms at different temperatures using a set of separate thermostats, one in each zone, in close relationship with duct dampers (in the case of furnace and heat pump systems) or valves (hydronic radiators and baseboard systems).
But this is just a concept of zoning, whose results depend a lot on factors such as the type of the HAVC system (multi-stage equipment responds better to zoning requirements) or the floor plan of the house...
Temperature zoning can be other things, and involve other strategies.
In such homes, central heating and cooling and temperature zoning may not make great sense, unless in very large homes.
Zoning is also creating a HIGHLY INSULATED ROOM in a sheltered part of the house, to benefit from air conditioning, while other parts of the building remain un-air-conditioned (they may use ceiling fans, or natural ventilation or other cooling strategy). This type of zoning can be useful in hot climates, to cool home offices or bedrooms (for sleeping comfort).
Zoning is also heating just the LIVING ROOM AREA, with a POWERFUL SPACE HEATER, while other rooms are kept un-heated or are only marginally heated. This is very common in mild climates, but can also be a useful strategy in cold climates, in well insulated homes.
Zoning is also using a ROOM-AIR CONDITIONER or a DUCTLESS HEAT PUMP OR A DUCTLESS AIR CONDITIONER in a room or part of the house, and just in it; the other rooms and parts of the house are not air-conditioned.
Zoning is also heating the entire house with a central heating system at relatively low temperatures; and using SPACE HEATERS AND SPOT HEATING STRATEGIES to raise the temperature in some rooms.
Zoning is also heating specific rooms (bathrooms for example( with RADIANT ELECTRIC HEATING SYSTEMS, controlled by switches or by occupancy sensors, to get comfort and to limit the heating to the periods during which the rooms are occupied.
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Our video on Zoning